Melbourne win by 15 points
3 - Sean Wight
2 - Warren Dean
Last MFC Game
A famous day saw the Demons break a 23 year run failure to finally qualify for a finals series for Robert Flower in his last attempt.
The equation was simple. Beat Footscray at the Western Oval and have Hawthorn (16-5) beat Geelong (11-10) at Kardinia Park. It was a scenario eerily reminscent of Round 22, 1976 when the Demons had done their bit by beating Collingwood only to see top five contenders Footscray steal a draw against minor premiers Carlton to leapfrog into 5th.
The Demons had often promised in the eleven seasons since then, but through five coaches and hundreds of players they'd more often been down - or at - the bottom of the ladder. Flower had to be talked out of retiring at the end of 1986, and now his chances of playing finals football rested on a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon in the western suburbs - and what happened in Geelong.
Team Manager John Sell told the players at three-quarter time that the Hawks were thumping Geelong. The coaching staff wanted them to concentrate on doing their bit and letting the game at Kardinia Park play out.
Fittingly it was Flower who turned the game for the Demons. They had been 24 points behind early in the third quarter and it seemed that their brave late season run was going to end with a whimper. Two goals during the comeback, and a steadying presence in the dramatic final term were everything you could ask a champion for in what would otherwise have been his final match - especially considering he'd only had two kicks in the first half.
The commotion after the game was unbelievable. Fans who hadn't even been born in 1964 and those who distantly remembered the glory era of the 1950's shared in the celebration. Hundreds invaded the field at the final siren, and some even tried to hoist Robbie onto their shoulders.
The problem was that the game in Geelong hadn't finished yet, and while Geelong had thrown a nine point lead away to trail by three they were still just one straight kick from another 1976-esque heartbreaker for the Demons. As the players hit the change rooms, though, the siren went at Kardinia Park and it was confirmed - they were in. For the second time that day the players erupted.
The story from Geelong made it all the more remarkable. At the 23 minute mark of the last quarter the Cats held a 23-point lead and it seemed inevitable that they would jump both the sides at the Western Oval and finish 5th. Hawthorn stormed back in time-on but a Barry Stoneham goal with no more than a couple of minutes seemed to make it safe. Local radio commentators even declared "the Cats are in the finals" much to the distress of the fans huddled around their radios at the Western Oval.
The Hawks goalled again though, and with 60 seconds left the ball flew into their forward line and somehow evaded the pack waiting for it and landed in the arms of Hawk spearhead Jason Dunstall. He converted his fourth goal of the last quarter to put the Hawks in front and Melbourne into the 5th again.
Wight, Dean and Newport were the best for Melbourne but they lost exciting youngster Garry Lyon with a broken leg. Lyon's reaction on the stretcher would later come back to haunt him during his hosting of The Footy Show. Brian Wilson suffered an injured ankle which kept him out, and Flower a broken finger which required pain-killing injections and a great deal of subterfuge to get him to the line the next Saturday. Steve Turner strained knee ligaments and also missed the finals.
Earl Spalding and Dean Chiron were both reported for striking. Both were cleared. Spalding had accidentally struck Bulldog Shane Williams, causing him to be stretchered from the ground while Chiron and Doug Hawkins were accused of hitting each other with right fists while wrestling.
Footscray 18.13.121 d. Melbourne 10.10.70
Goals - Eishold 3, Richards 2, Lamb 2, Kol 1, Campbell 1, Lovett 1,
Best - Allardice, Lovett, Eishold
Melbourne 19.10.124 defeated Footscray 12.9.81
Goals - Lane 3, M. Stillman 3, Graham 2, Healy 2, Partington 2, Smith 2, Gazeas 2, Hanlon 2, Minchington 1
Best - Smit, Clarkson, Hawkins
"Flower Power" - Canberra Times 30/08/1987
"Flower-power works for the Demons" - The Age 31/08/1987
"Demon pair clear by Turner to miss" - The Age 01/09/1987
"The perfect Flower arrangement" - 01/07/2007
Football Record 1987 finals